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tv   Charles Curtis House  CSPAN  August 31, 2015 7:04pm-7:16pm EDT

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john brown argues nothing has bring these pro-slavery men that slaughtered tose five pre-state men justice, and that is why it is known as john brown's parallels. abraham lincoln, when he visited in 1859, said no other territory has had a history like kansas. at the state historical society can to see these documents in person, that they have survived 150-plus years is pretty remarkable. the constitutions that have survived, the documents that are still here, and the state historical society does a great job of putting these documents online. so you can access these territorial-peroid documents from anywhere in the world. now we visit the home of charles curtis, who served as
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vice president under president herbert hoover. and member of the kaw, he was the first vice president who was native american. i came to know charles curtis and wasmoved to topeka a rested historian at the cemetery where he is buried. i came to know more of his story, and the more i found out, the more fascinating he became and the more i realized how his story is. he is reduced rate a trivia question, the only vice president of the american and he deserves a lot more than that. i have been doing some curtis research for 20 years. it has gotten more serious in the last couple of years. his journey has become more remarkable to me in the last couple of years.
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in north topeka, 1860 . kaw, osage, french, and white dissent. his father is a white man, owen curtis. he comes originally, his ancestors are passengers on the is mader, a lot of hay with that. when he is a candidate. it's got the indian on one side, pilgrims on the other. piece. great p.t. what makes and so remarkable, i think, is the fact that he is a mixed blood growing up in a time that makes that very difficult. any somehow, i think by sheer force of his personality, makes
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all that an advantage. i know one historian said he played the indian card when it worked, he played a white card when it worked. that might be true, but i think that it oversimplifies his experience and it is unfair to him. me'ink he chose the white s becauseworld society forced that choice on him, but it most certainly did. charles curtis' family, his mother's family, operated the ferry that went from north to begin the south size of the kansas -- side of the kansas river. he does not come from a poor family. they are always working, but their people of means. has an allotment of land, and a part of her mixed indian heritage.
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so he always has means. mother dies, when he is three years old, he goes to live with his indian grandmother. had beenthe kaw removed to counsel growth. he grows up with his indian identity. he talks about his childhood as being idyllic. he was a little boy riding ponies and fishing and hunting. great life. the turning point came in 1868. he is only eight years old. the cheyenne uncharacteristically come pretty far east to attack the kaw. this is not a pitched battle. it turns a sickly italy standoff. it is an incredible show of force of the cheyenne. is selected to
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walk to topeka 60 miles to alert the authorities that the cheyenne have attacked them. some accounts say his uncle that he actually came with his uncle, but charles spoke english. w, andke french, kas english. he comes to the big and tells governor crawford at the cheyenne attacked, and i think a lot of this is due to the influence of his grandmother, but his white grandmother into the get said that is enough, you're coming to live with us and have a civilized life. his indian grandmother agreed. when the indians, the kaw the oroved to the indian nations the indian territory, what is now oklahoma, he really wants to go with them. that is it 73, when he is 13. his indian grandmother, french and indian grandmother, says no, she says you have got to make
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something of your life, so you have to stay with your wife karen mother -- white grandmother and make something of present. i do not think you can overestimate what those two went on, the impact that those two women had on his life. he comes to to become attends topeka high school, did not graduate, so it is not unusual for people not to graduate since it is a to have in your program. he worked. he had one horse and a buggy, and he borrowed or rented another horse, and he basically runs a taxi service. running the legislators and the attorneys back and forth around the capitol. he reads for the law, as was not uncommon at that point, and that is how he passes the bar. curtis had decades of legislative experience. he was both in congress.
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he was the first republican senate majority leader. was to some people, some newspaper editors of the day said that curtis was the most powerful man in washington as senate majority leader. he did not rule from the front. he ruled from the back. he sat by the door. he knew every man in their intimately. he knew what they wanted. he knew their children's names. he was a master at compromising and getting things done, and almost never rose to speak himself. in the 1928 presidential campaign, curtis was hoping to get the top spot. he was campaigning for president, not second-place. when the convention met in kansas city that year, he was very disappointed and made it known that he was disappointed
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not to be chosen as president. campaign, because probably he was already the senate majority leader and a really big deal, almost all the make him a mythic figure, this rise from the tipi to washington. whether or not he lived in a tipi, i am really not sure. this pilgrim and indian background, it was turned into such a colorful story. nobody could match that story. constn, he had so and's himself with business -- ensc onced himself with business that i do not believe his indian heritage was a negative. it does not appear to have been. vice president. hoover is not real popular wasuse his administration
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some people think responsible for the depression. it at least ushered in the great depression. so nobody associated with that is very popular. curtisvice president, was something of a nobody. all vice presidents are to some extent. caricature ata charac the time, and it is unfortunate because he was a remarkable man. the house, a beautiful house, unbelievable how beautiful it still is. eclecticctually called victorian. hecause it has them mooris domes and then i tally and eight te,italiana
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stained-glass windows, a lot of styles of victorian era that have been put together, and they call it victorian eclectic. we love the building, and people love to see the house and the furnishings and talk about curtis, and it has been a very wonderful retirement for us because it has kept us on the go. my husband and i purchased the house in 1993. when we purchased the building, was actually going to be demolished by the city because nobody was interested in purchasing the building. that actually has 12 rooms. furnishings in the house are of curtis' era. he would have used most of these furnishings in that era. we do have some curtis items in the house that are very important. whenhe grandfather clock mr. curtis was here. we have a bookcase, chair,, a quilt and a few dishes.
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but we have a lot of memorabilia of curtis. when we take people on a tour of we just tell them the story of curtis first. ry isow curtis' sto becoming more popular. people in our city did not know about curtis. and i thought that was very strange, but it had been many years since he was in office, you know. and the more we read about him, the more this almost unbelievable to think that you can take one year of high school education and go on to do all of that. when charles curtis was first elected, native americans did not have the right to vote. the significance of his election cannot be overstated. again, it is the sheer force of his personality that makes th


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